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I am a brand new widow: help!
Bicoastal
Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2016 10:53 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 269


A little more than 48 hours ago, my beloved husband passed into eternity.  I am exhausted from caring for him round the clock this past month. I met with the mortuary today and will work with our priest tomorrow on the memorial service. There are bills stacked two feet high on my desk, so soon I will have to tackle that. Then lawyers, accountants, banks, etc. 

I am on FMLA leave but have used up all my paid leave time and am now scrambling to figure out how to pay my portion of employee benefits.  I have been sick for weeks and have to have surgery at the end of the month, so I can't go back to work soon.  

Can any of you with more experience help me figure out how to sort through the mountain of grief and financial mess while I am still barely able to see straight?  I have held my breath throughout the final illness, barely eating or sleeping. I just put my stepdaughter on a plane home and arranged for cremation and death certificates.  And now I am supposed to be an organized and efficient paper-processor?   And somehow do my work as a lawyer so I can pay the bills?  

Are there books or posts or checklists I should be consulting?  It is hard enough to figure out how I can breathe and eat and to wonder if I will ever be able to sleep again.  How can I possibly do all the rest of the stuff normal people do?  

Thank you 


blfbrat
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 8:53 AM
Joined: 2/15/2014
Posts: 168


Bicostal,

It is overwhelming, because, you were not well, your thinking process is not working well.  I am doing a lot of cleaning, and running away when it gets too overwhelming for me.  It is almost 3 months,  I have not had his will probated, but going on a cruise.  I am so all over the place.  Financially trying to figure everything out is bad.  You might since you have no income apply for Widows Social Security?  I know you don't feel like you have time to breath, but you need to rest a little so you can make clean good decisions.  Don't let anyone (they all have good intentions) push you into anything.  I keep discovering things I forgot to do or people that I needed to notify.  Some credit cards have life insurances on the balances.    Best Wishes, let us know how you are doing.


Oceanbum
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 9:31 AM
Joined: 3/11/2012
Posts: 433


I'm so sorry for both of your losses. Please accept my condolences. 

Hugs to you. I wish you peace & comfort.


jfkoc
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 11:27 AM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19625


What to do? How to do it? Are there any answers?

The grief was overwhelming, all encompassing. There were no wishes give to me by my husband as to what he might want following his death.

I opted for cremation., There was no service...memorial or funeral. What had happened had left me broken and unable to function. Close friends quietly sat with me. It was not until later that they, being Jewish, were sitting Shiva(sp). Flowers arrived as well as food. It was one step at a time...one breath at a time.

Our "mortician" was truly a guiding light. Together we decided that Dick would rest at Arlington. There was no rush since it would take time to schedule (still have not) and time for the obituary since Sunday seemed to be the day to put it in the newspaper and it was only Tuesday.

Hospice was on hand to handle things like Death certificate and Social Security. Legal matters had been taken care of years ago...everything was in place.

You are going to survive this enormous blow but not unchanged. Lean on those who give you strength....they are there but you may not know who they are just yet. Be kind to yourself...allow yourself to feel and be open. This time is about you. Your stepdaughters have lost their father but you, my friend have lost your husband. It is different and I found it to be an extremely intimate experience.

There is now, in my life a gigantic whole...a void that I do not expect to ever be filled. After five months I can laugh again, I can be with friends, I can start to put my toe in the water of life but it is a changed life...a life less bright.

Pull the bills out of the pile and get them paid, one by one. Then "triage" the rest of the paper work.

Breathe...cry...share when you can.

We are with you....


irisized
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 3:08 PM
Joined: 10/4/2015
Posts: 440


jfkoc, I hope you don't mind me asking...my dh has early onset, type 1 diabetes , seizures, tremors and has lost a lot of weight. I think he is probable the latter part of stage 6...did any family give you trouble on no funeral or memorial. Dh is only 62 and we both at many times in our life said we did not want the norm... quiet time for the loved one and just deal in our own way. His sis is not happy with our choices...we have only been in fla for 2 1/2 years after losing our home so I could care for him....so the only people here are his parents (86 yrs old) and sis in law and husband.... I don't know when it will happen, i am told he has a lot on his plate with all his issues....he has declined a lot in the last 10 months.... i just want to have peace when he is gone...this has been so hard....married for 37 yrs.... to a very sweet man, who is no longer that man, he wants to die, he is depressed and just plain tired....guess i am rambling...i wanted to know if you were ok with your decision to not have anything formal.... this is not what i thought retirement would be....living every day wondering when he will pass....i hope this did not offend you....

kathy


jfkoc
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 4:05 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19625


Certainly no offense taken. It was a bit of a shock to others that nothing was planned but my only response was that if they wanted to plan something they could. I could not even breathe.

In my case relatives of my husband, specifically two of his children, would have been involved that I would not have been able to be even cordial to.

There was comment that people would want to commemorate his life. I replied that he would love to be remembered with a donation in his honor to Wounded Warrior.  

Being Irish my husband might have wanted a wake and perhaps AI will do that on his birthday.

I am 100% OK with my decision!!!!!


irisized
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 6:08 PM
Joined: 10/4/2015
Posts: 440


thankyou you have given me peace.... my grandfather came from Ireland and so loved life and the love of being in gods light in death....you have helped me so much....hugs
blfbrat
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 7:49 PM
Joined: 2/15/2014
Posts: 168


jfkoc wrote:

Certainly no offense taken. It was a bit of a shock to others that nothing was planned but my only response was that if they wanted to plan something they could. I could not even breathe.

In my case relatives of my husband, specifically two of his children, would have been involved that I would not have been able to be even cordial to.

There was comment that people would want to commemorate his life. I replied that he would love to be remembered with a donation in his honor to Wounded Warrior.  

Being Irish my husband might have wanted a wake and perhaps AI will do that on his birthday.

I am 100% OK with my decision

 My husband did not want to funeral I honored his wishes.   I consider the memorial but he has no friends left in the area open Yummly except for mine.   It was too painful for me to do a memorial immediately and he was also cremated I still have his ashes with me . His daughter and my three children were very good about going along with the plans I think they were in so much pain to. His daughter and my three children were very good about going along with the plans I think they were in so much pain to .   My daughter-in-law had previously suggested a memorial for the grandchildren for closure but they all came after he passed and spent time with them the grandchildren drawing pictures and  giving him precious  stuffed animals to go with them when he was cremated .   I believe that that was truly closure for the children so I am not planning on doing any memorial he's in all of our hearts forever 

I also


irisized
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2016 8:35 PM
Joined: 10/4/2015
Posts: 440


I am at peace with the responses.....god love all of us

 


jfkoc
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 6:13 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19625


The idea of the drawing and the stuffed animals has made me weak....What a splendid idea!!!
Bicoastal
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 9:32 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 269


Thank you for the wisdom, everyone.  I am trying to slow down and catch my breath.  Someone wisely told me if I found myself wondering what to do next, the answer should be take a nap.  I can't sleep through the night, but I am sleeping 1-3 hours at a time at odd intervals - I just run out of energy every few hours and sleep until I wake up.  I have triaged the mail and started a list of things that have to be done.  Today's task was sending notices of the memorial service and finishing the obituary. (My paper is charging $650 a day for four paragraphs and a photo, so I think it will run only once.)   

My husband and I agreed that our bodies would belong to the survivor to be disposed of as the survivor chose.  I am having him cremated and will place his ashes in a family niche in Chicago, where he grew up.  I may save some for mingling with my own eventually and will provide some to his daughters to do with what they will (scatter in the ocean where they sailed with him?).  I have a lovely cemetery 2 blocks from home, but I decided I don't want to go visit his remains - I want to think of him as present with me in spirit always.  

I am having a service because it fits with my own belief system; I don't think hubby would have cared one way or the other. It is still a month away and the purpose will be to celebrate his life with others who loved him. He was  Scotsman so we will have plenty of toasts with his favorite single malt scotch.  And a bagpiper.  I couldn't possibly plan a service right now while I am so raw.  I will think about music and poetry fitting for the memorial as I am able.  

My stepdaughters want to plan and control the details of a memorial service, so I suggested they go ahead and do so.  It will be in Massachusetts where they live.  I may or may not attend. They will probably come to California for the service I am planning, but it will be fine if they don't.  They want to collect furniture and valuables and I plan to let them, even though he left all his possessions to me.  I look forward to a clean, bare house that can be truly mine.  I will insist on keeping things that have sentimental value to me but there are only a handful of such items.  

Falling asleep again even as I write.  Many thanks for the support, especially among those of you who have been through the loss of your life partner in recent months.  It helps to know you found a way to survive.  


Agent 99
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2016 1:01 PM
Joined: 6/7/2013
Posts: 2166


My dear Bicoastal,

I am so very sorry for your loss.  I have said this before to others - your beloved husband, our beloved LOs, gifted us to each other through their dementia journey.  Their legacy lives on in the support we give each other.  If it wasn't for your post that convinced me NOT to interfere with my sweeties work situation he might not have been able to spend the last three years of his life going to work every day, his first love, when he wasn't hospitalized or recovering.  He did something at work he was unable to do for three years on the day he fell at home and was hospitalized for the last time.  You and your beloved husband who brought you here to this e-village changed the course of our final years.  

Now I wish I could offer you as monumental advice and guidance to maneuver the new world of widowhood that I joined almost two months ago.  Others have written wisely.  But be prepared to say 'my husband passed away' at least one time a day, almost every day for a very long time.  You can't imagine the tangled web our lives weave.  Friends, family, bureaucrats, bankers, grocery store clerks, doctors, hair stylist, mechanic, plumber, strangers, etc. times 2 - yours and LOs.  

Don't be hesitant to talk about LOs life.  I find my seven yo niece loves to hear how Uncle Sweetie ate hard shell crabs with a hammer or did this or that.  For me, it feels like a way of reconnecting with sweetie before the personality change and ambivalence that invaded the relationship.

I have traveled twice.  Once to my mohter and brother's houses - mother was on the way - and now cross country to see my ailing dad in memory care.  Each time I thought it would be a good thing to do and very quickly become homesick and can't wait to get home.  

Sweetie was cremated without service or obit.  One of his sons, the substance abuser, was upset that there was not service but that was the last thing I felt like organizing in the days after his passing.  My thought was to hold a service in a few months at the university but that now seems too stressful so I decided for September.  Now I'm feeling like it's not necessary.  My sweetie would not want it.  Initially I needed the external  affirmation of his greatness and stature but now I don't.  But it's another roller coaster we are on.  We are the drivers so don't feel pressured into doing anything and don't doubt or punish yourself for changing your mind - no matter how many times.

Right now sweeties ashes are in a leather covered cylinder from the funeral home sitting on the couch side table watching TV with me.  Soon his colleagues will fabricate a replica of his favorite piece of lab equipment he built and called Bertha.  The cylinder will be placed in Bertha and stay with me until I decide to do something else.

Our coroner sent me a card and included a list of local bereavement support groups.  I went to one that uses art therapy as part of the session.  I joked that I was going to make sweetie cutout paper dolls.  We colored instead but the leader thought it was a good idea!  She has tried to convince me to join other sessions but I feel that with this site, my return to twice monthly therapy and once a month art session I am where I need to be.

So, spend time to heal, feel, grieve, recover but most importantly - do it your way and if you feel like you can't get out of bed or isolating yourself please see your doc for something to keep you from falling into a depression.  That would be terrible.

I don't know why but I am not always sad or crying or even mildly depressed.  I have joked that if there was any suspicion about my sweetie's passing, the police would say that I am not responding appropriately.  If anything about the past three years have taught me is that there is no appropriate response.  Be yourself my e-friend.


jfkoc
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2016 2:54 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19625


Dick is in the funerals plastic container in his flight bag with an Air America luggage tag!`He wasn't too much TV...

There is an airplane "gyroscope" converted for ashes that I may get. The gyroscope is used to keep the planes wings level (I think). That would go in the library with the way too many books!!!


irisized
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2016 7:20 PM
Joined: 10/4/2015
Posts: 440


bicoastal..... I have followed you through this website....and I pray for your peace......we all struggle in our own way....we need to take time to understand what happens in this horrid disease and when our loved one passes......take time to understand we did the  best we could........as much as I hate what is happening to my dh..... I love him, but I know he will be gone soon.... and I will be ok with him being out of this horrible disease.
BeDo
Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2016 5:56 PM
Joined: 1/9/2015
Posts: 22


I lost my husband of 51 years just three weeks ago. I know what your going thru

but don't be afraid to ask family and friends for help. It is to hard to try to do it all by yourself when your exhausted. Take a day to nap and recoup then tackle things one at a time. It will all still be there tomorrow so don't try to do it all in one day. If you get in a hurry you'll make mistakes. I know I did. But when I asked a good friend to help one afternoon we got a lot done with two people looking at things


Mrs. Braxton
Posted: Thursday, April 14, 2016 10:48 PM
Joined: 9/12/2012
Posts: 929


Bicoastal I am sorry for your loss. I understand how it is right now.  I just wondered and still do.  I have done very little in 10 months.  I have cried a lot in 10 months.

 I waited 6 weeks before doing a memorial in NY with his family, I just could not do it.

He was cremated as, he donated his body and brain to the AZL foundation.   

I could not have even left his ashes in a grave, which we have and he asked to be buried when I am.

I would ask some friends to help you do some stuff for you.  sort your bills into priorities.  I am not a private person, but some are.  Have someone just clean up your house, put clean sheets on your bed,  do errands for you or with you.

I did not go to a store for about 8 months, people went for me.  I just could not.    I won't say yes to an invitation unless they know I may cancel.  I hate to cancel so I would rather say I can't commit.

This is our time to grieve how we may and for how long and all of that.  I dont let anyone push me or guilt me.  I give myself permission to do it how I can.   It is awful, my husband was the love of my life and I feel thats harder.  Not every husband is that love as I have found out.

I would have a friend call the places you have bills and explain the situation.  I have done that and said, I was a caregiver for my husband who died of ALZ and I have lost track of time.  I have had charges reversed, I have found people to be very kind.

May you be blessed in this maze of grieve.

Angela